A 44-year-old man has admitted helping to plot and offload nearly $1m worth of stolen wine, including more than 100 bottles from a Christmas Day heist at California's famed French Laundry restaurant that featured a cache of Domaine de la Romanée Conti.

Davis Kiryakoz, 44, admitted plotting to steal bottles and to getting them out of California along with co-conspirators, the FBI said this week.

He faces sentencing next March after he reaching a plea agreement with the FBI that values the stolen fine wine at more than $870,000. He helped to ship $370,000-worth of the wines out of California.

The charges relate to a break-in at the famous French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, Napa Valley, on Christmas Day 2014, while the restaurant was closed for renovations.

Some 110 bottles of fine wine, including Screaming Eagle and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, were taken in the early hours of Christmas morning, with a combined value of $550,000.

Kiryakoz sent 63 bottles of the stolen wine, worth more than $200,000, to a buyer in North Carolina – who promptly returned the bottles to the restaurant when he learned of the theft.

Kiryakoz also admitted conspiring to steal 142 bottles of wine from San Francisco merchant Fine Wines International in March 2013 – worth an additional $290,000 – and 29 bottles from Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino – worth $32,000 – in November 2014.

A federal grand jury indicted Kiryakoz, from Modesto, and a second defendant – Alfred Georgis of Mountain View, against whom charges are still pending – earlier this year.

Kiryakoz, who pleaded guilty to the charges before a federal judge, was freed on bail pending sentencing, which will take place on 28 March.

Editing by Chris Mercer

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